Priest Is Arraigned in Sex Assault on Teen

Providence Journal-Bulletin
January 14, 1994

The Rev. Joseph A. Abruzzese, assistant pastor of St. Anthony Church in North Providence, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Tuesday to charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy in Providence's Roger Williams Park last November.

Father Abruzzese, 34, was released on personal recognizance by Special Court Master William McAtee after entering the pleas to charges of second-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct.

McAtee continued the case to March 17 for a pretrial hearing, and he ordered the priest to have no contact with his alleged victim.

Father Abruzzese was arrested in November, after police received a complaint from the boy, who alleged that he was attacked while walking in the park near the Providence police horse stable.

The boy told police that a man approached him and asked whether he wanted to make some money. He said no, the boy told police, and the man then grabbed the boy's genitals and buttocks and exposed himself.

The boy said he broke free and ran to a nearby greenhouse in the park.

Police said they arrested Father Abruzzese after tracing the license plate on a car.

Father Abruzzese, a Warwick native, was assigned to St. Anthony Church in June 1992. After his arrest, he was placed on a leave of absence from the parish.


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